Clash looms between Cricket SA and players over restructuring
Saca CEO Tony Irish bemoans lack of consultation by governing body on its financial position and cutbacks of the domestic structure
Cricket SA’s austerity measures have put them on a collision course with the players.
Cricket SA said on Saturday their board has approved the management’s response to their mandate to “review its financial model in order to recover historical losses that have been accumulated since 2011”.
The plan includes the dismantling of the six-team franchise system and a return to‚ reportedly‚ a 12-team version of the provincial model it succeeded in 2004/2005.
But it seems the process of arriving at decisions like that did not involve‚ to a significant level‚ the views of the players.
“Cricket SA has not properly consulted with the players’ association either on the actual financial position or on any restructuring of the domestic structure‚” Tony Irish‚ CEO of the SA Cricketers’ Association (Saca)‚ said.
If true‚ that would constitute a breach of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the board and the players.
“Cricket SA and Saca are parties to an MOU that requires actual agreement to any domestic restructure and the player contracts under that structure‚” Irish said. “That has not happened.”
Asked if that is the case‚ a Cricket SA spokesperson said on Sunday: “Saca have been consulted and Cricket SA intends on meeting with the player executive so we can go through the changes with them.”
If the looming impasse is not resolved‚ Cricket SA could find themselves in a legal dispute with Saca‚ which could result in a player strike.
That could be taking place in another sense already‚ what with the ebbing away of some of SA’s best talent who have signed Kolpak contracts to play for counties and are thus lost to the national cause.
Their decisions to do so could be seen as a response to the game’s struggle to stay afloat as a profession in SA — more than one of the departing players have voiced worries over job “security”.
Those concerns wouldn’t have been eased by Cricket SA CEO Thabang Moroe telling parliament in October that the organisation expects to lose R654m in the four-year cycle that ends in 2022.
Cricket SA highlighted on Saturday their “candid recognition of the reality that Cricket SA has experienced a considerable reduction in FTP [future tours programme] content and dwindling broadcast numbers over the years‚ as well as an unstable sponsorship focus globally”.
“Cricket SA management has consulted with relevant stakeholders and solicited input from varied professionals to arrive at a solid plan that will ensure that the fortunes of cricket and its legacy are enriched,” it said.
“The restructuring of Cricket SA domestic cricket from franchise to a first-class cricket system‚ reorganisation of domestic T20 competitions and optimising player contracts will greatly enhance Cricket SA’s revenue enhancement drives‚” it said.
Cricket SA president and board chair Chris Nenzani was quoted as saying: “In order to respond to the changing market forces and declining revenue-generation landscape we had to design a cogent four-year recovery plan that would ensure that we break even and accumulate profit while refining our operating model.
“What is important is the reassurance from the Cricket SA bank balance figures that it is a solvent concern‚ has sufficient cash reserves and that it is able to continue its operations unhindered,” he said. “It is‚ however‚ our responsibility to ensure that we design sustainable models that should effectively and efficiently increase our fiscal standing at minimal input costs.
“Thus‚ I am confident Cricket SA management’s recovery plan is sound‚ sustainable and in the best interests of all in cricket.”
One insider saw things differently: “Cricket SA are in deep financial trouble. People have tried to get to the bottom of it and they just won’t say how much trouble they’re really in.”